WRITTEN SOME YEARS AGO
Nagesh Hamand was one of those cricketers you come across often wherever the game is played, someone who is very successful at the junior and university level but does not quite make the grade in first class cricket. He was one of the first cricketers I met at Hyderabad, and one of my dearest cricket friends, who for years advised and guided me, constantly appreciating my efforts and pointing out my mistakes. He was my State Bank colleague as well as neighbour, living in a quiet residential area originally called Walker Town and renamed Padmarao Nagar.
Nagesh had captained Hyderabad Juniors at Madras in 1969 when we beat his team by an innings. He had put up a lone fight with a brilliant 80 or so, the first time I saw the raw power and aggression of his batting. What I did not know then was what a good off spinner he was, as well. He bowled with a brisk, economical action, and, while he was perhaps not so classically side-on as the purist might wish, he made up with his whippy action and the sharp tweak he gave the cricket ball. He was a confident, aggressive bowler who always believed he could get the batsman out. Also capable of bowling medium pace quite effectively when the mood caught him, Nagesh was convinced he was a better off spinner than Noshir Mehta, who formed a successful pair with left armer Mumtaz Husain for years in Ranji Trophy cricket.
Happily for me, he believed I was a better bowler than both of them and never hesitated to pass me useful tips. It was as a batsman that Nagesh made his mark in university cricket. He was an explosive middle order batsman, who would often take the bowling by the scruff of its neck and give it a mauling. He was particularly severe on off spinners, and loved to go after poor Noshir in local cricket. I too received the brunt of his fury on occasion, though I probably tamed him more often than other purveyors of my trade. The one chink in Nagesh’s armour was his weakness against left arm spin, which he managed to conquer on matting, but surfaced, sometimes embarrassingly, on turf.
A shrewd student of the game and an excellent tactician, Nagesh was an astute captain, though he did not receive too many leadership opportunities in his career. He was however an invaluable part of the State Bank think tank for well over a decade. An all round sportsman who could play a very decent game of tennis or table tennis, he had the irritating habit of smiling mischievously at you after defeating you, often coming back from difficult situations.
In the cricket conversations that are part and parcel of the game at all levels, Nagesh was a frank participant who did not bother to pull his punches. Of the firm view that he was a better cricketer than a number of middle order batsmen the Hyderabad selectors preferred to him over the years, he made no secret of his feelings, regardless of who was present. Based on performance at the local level, it was difficult not to agree with him.
An employee of State Bank of India, Nagesh is a conscientious worker at the bank, who made a smooth transition from player to officer. Today, he keeps in touch with the game he loves through coaching, partnering another outstanding Hyderabad cricketer of the past, Vijay Paul. Future India star Ambati Rayudu is a product of the Nagesh-Paul stable.